Color Psychology: What is it and how to apply it in Marketing and Business?
Did you know that color can influence from 60% to 80% in the decision to buy a product at the point of sale? So that’s it. Choosing the right colors for your brand and your products is decisive for the success of your business.
Here’s what colors mean in the marketing world and how you can choose the right colors to increase your sales.
Let’s get started!
- Colors and Marketing
- Color psychology
- Meaning of colors in business
- Psychology of the color red
- Psychology of the color blue
- Green color psychology
- Yellow color psychology
- Orange color psychology
- Purple color psychology
- Psychology of the color brown or coffee
- Psychology of the color pink
- Black color psychology
- White color psychology
- Gray color psychology
- Multicolored psychology
- Color temperature
- Infographic on the Psychology of Color in Marketing and Business
Colors and Marketing
Colors evoke emotions, feelings and have a psychological impact on each of us. This is because, from a very young age, we are exposed to various stimuli that lead us to make associations between colors and sensations. For example, it is possible that throughout your childhood your parents have transmitted to you, consciously or unconsciously, the information that blue is for the male gender and pink for the female gender. Then at school your teachers told you that the towering mountains are green, the warm sun is yellow, and the cool water is blue. Also, you learned that the red of the traffic light means alert or danger and that when a person dies, we must wear black garments in mourning.
It is important to clarify that these associations between colors and sensations vary according to culture. For example, in western countries red is often associated with passion, love, and revolution; while, in other countries, such as South Africa, this color represents mourning, violence, and sacrifice.
Since we have entered the context, now we are going to talk about Color Psychology.
The psychology of color is a field of study that aims to analyze the effect of color on human perception and behavior, that is, how colors can influence our perceptions and behaviors. Among the authors who have written on the subject, we can mention the German poet and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who in his treatise “Color Theory” proposed that color also depends on our perception; and the psychologist Eva Heller, who investigated the influence of colors on feelings and reason.
In its broadest sense, the study of color perception is an important consideration in disciplines such as design, architecture, fashion, signage, advertising, and art.
In the business world, the psychology of color makes it possible to define the ideal colors to use in logos, product packaging, commercial establishments, promotional material, and many other elements that are part of the corporate image of a company.
Some people may exaggerate when saying that colors can manipulate us to the point of leading us to perform a specific action as if we were zombies. Not necessarily because you see a yellow wall will make you hungry; however, colors do subtly influence our perceptions, behaviors, and purchasing decisions. That is if you are already hungry and must choose between Product A or Product B, the corporate colors that represent each product will be decisive in the decision you make to satisfy your need.
Meaning of colors in business
Let’s now see the meaning of the main colors, in which industries they are usually used, and what are emotions that they can generate in people.
Psychology of the color red
The color red is associated with danger, love, passion, blood, aggressiveness, and seduction. It is believed that people who wear red tend to look sexier and more attractive.
This is one of the most used colors at the business level due to its attractive and intense nature; However, long exposure to red can be uncomfortable and cause fatigue, so it is recommended to use it in a subtle and contrasting way.
At the marketing level, red is widely used for call-to-action elements, as it has been proven to be one of the most effective colors to attract the attention of users in different environments, both offline and online.
It is a very popular color in companies in the food industry and in brands whose main sensations they want to convey are dynamism, emotion, and pleasure. Also, many agree that red is the color that best looks on high-end sports vehicles.
On the other hand, it is little used in companies in sectors related to health, finance, travel, energy, and household products.
Some brands that are known for using this color are Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Nintendo.
Psychology of the color blue
Blue is the most popular color in the corporate world, as it is associated with confidence, freshness, tranquility, security, and responsibility, very important elements to achieve the preference of customers in the market. In addition, according to various studies, this is the color that people like the most.
It is mainly used in industries related to finance, technology, education, health, and tourism.
In contrast, it is little used in sectors related to food, cars, and clothing.
Some brands in which this color predominates are Facebook, Copa Airlines, BBVA, Citibank, PayPal, and Nivea.
Green color psychology
It is the color that par excellence represents nature, the ecological, and the organic. Also, it evokes feelings related to calm, serenity, and freshness.
In light tones, it expresses dynamism and energy. In darker tones, it is associated with abundance and wealth because this is the type of green that is commonly used on some banknotes.
It is a color widely used in financial, technology, energy, food, and home products companies.
On the other hand, it is little used in cars, clothing and travel companies.
Among the brands that use this color, we can mention Animal Planet, BP Petroleum, Monster Energy, and Whole Foods Market.
Yellow color psychology
The color yellow shares some characteristics with the color red: both are widely used in the food industry, they are very striking colors and their long exposure can be annoying.
This color conveys warmth, joy, positivity, creativity, and kindness. Also, it is associated with wealth because of its similarity to the golden color of gold and coins. Some people consider that yellow stimulates the appetite, so it is very common to see it in fast food stores in the company of the color red.
It is widely used by companies in sectors related to food, energy, and household products.
In contrast, it is little used in industries related to auto, technology, clothing, and health.
Some brands characterized by using this color are McDonald’s, MercadoLibre, Ferrari, National Geographic, and Snapchat.
Orange color psychology
Orange is a color that expresses joy, fun, youth, kindness, and vitality. Its composition combines the brightness and spirits of yellow, with the strength and intensity of red, to result in color full of vitality and emotion.
It is widely used by companies whose main audience is young. Also, it is often used in sectors related to technology and health.
On the other hand, its use is rare in industries related to food, clothing, cars, travel, and household products.
Some brands where we can find this color are Nickelodeon, Fanta, Payless, and Hooters.
Purple color psychology
Purple is a color that conveys exclusivity, mystery, luxury, sophistication, nostalgia, and spirituality. In addition, it has historically been associated with wealth, power, and elegance, as in the past it was a very difficult and expensive color to obtain, so only royalty could afford to use it.
This color can be found in companies in industries related to entertainment, luxury, fantasy, finance, and technology.
It is little used in industries related to food, energy, cars, and household products.
Some brands that use this color are Yahoo!, Hallmark, Gandhi, Twitch, and Wonka.
Psychology of the color brown or coffee
This is a color that we often associate with earth, wood, rustic, leather, chocolate, coffee, and fall. Many people also associate it with the experience, the cozy, the natural, the durable, and, in some cases, the yesteryear, old, traditional, or outdated. It is a very versatile color, but it must be used with care.
It is widely used by companies in sectors related to clothing, footwear, cars, food, and household products.
It is little used in industries related to technology, travel, finance, or health.
Among the brands that are characterized by using this color, we can mention Hershey’s, M & M’S, Nespresso, and Hollister.
Psychology of the color pink
Pink (or pink) is a color that conveys delicacy, romanticism, sweetness, softness, affection, tenderness, eroticism, and, in some cases, luxury and eccentrics.
Traditionally, it has been widely used by brands whose target audience is the female gender; However, this is something that has changed dramatically in recent years, so that more and more companies are encouraged to use it in their brands and products regardless of the gender of their niche.
It is a very popular color in companies in sectors related to clothing, food, and health.
In contrast, it is little used by companies in industries related to technology, finance, energy, and automobiles.
Some brands that are characterized by using this color are Barbie, Hello Kity, Victoria’s Secret, Kotex, Baskin Robbins, and Dunkin ‘Donuts.
Black color psychology
It is a color that is associated with mourning, death, darkness, and night, but it also represents sophistication, elegance, prestige, and power. It is popularly believed that wearing black makes us look slimmer.
It is a color widely used by companies in industries related to clothing, technology, and cars, especially those that sell high-value products.
On the other hand, it is little used in sectors related to health, finance, food, travel, and energy.
Some companies that use the color black in their brands are Zara, Nike, Puma, Dior, Playboy, Louis Vuitton, and Lamborghini.
White color psychology
It is a color that conveys the sensation of cleanliness, purity, innocence, peace, softness, simplicity, and nobility.
It is considered a good idea to paint the walls white in places with reduced space since it will offer us the perception of having a larger space.
It is usually used by companies in industries related to clothing, health, technology, hygiene, and household products.
On the other hand, it is little used in sectors such as food and finance.
As white is achromatic, it is commonly used to accompany it with colors such as black or silver. Some brands that are characterized by using the color white are Apple, Converse, Boss, Cartoon Network, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Gray color psychology
This color arises from the fusion between two neutral tones: white and black, so it takes qualities of both colors. It is usually associated with luxury, elegance, and sophistication, but also with sadness, melancholy and coldness.
It is widely used by companies in sectors related to technology, cars, and clothing.
In contrast, it is unpopular in industries such as food, finance, and healthcare.
Some brands that are characterized by using gray are Nissan, Wikipedia, Honda, LG, and Mercedes-Benz.
It is a concept used by those companies characterized by being innovative, disruptive, audacious, nonconformist, and irreverent. They are companies that know no limits and want to convey it to their customers through a play of striking colors.
Some brands that are characterized by using the multicolored concept are Google, eBay, NBC, Olympic Games, and Microsoft.
Did you know all this information about what each color transmits? But the history does not finish here. In addition to the meaning of the colors, another important aspect to consider when defining which colors we will use is what is known as the “Color Temperature”. Under this concept, colors can be classified into three groups:
- Warm: like red, orange, yellow, and pink.
- Cold: like green, blue and purple.
- Neutrals: like black, white, gray, and brown.
You must take into account this classification according to the type of brand you want to build and what you want to convey to your customers.
As you can see, choosing the colors for our business is not a detail that should be left to chance. On the contrary, it is a strategic decision that must be made by analyzing factors such as our value proposition, the industry in which we compete, and the customer profile we want to reach, only in this way can we guarantee that the chosen colors effectively transmit the essence of our business.
Before ending this article, we want to make two important clarifications:
- First of all, you should take this information for reference only and encourage yourself to do your own experiments and validations to determine which colors are best for you to use in your brand. Remember that the meaning of colors can vary considerably depending on the context.
- And secondly, keep in mind that a brand is always under construction. At any time you can allow yourself to evaluate the colors you chose for your business and determine if they still convey what you want to communicate or if it is a good idea to renew them.
Infographic on the Psychology of Color in Marketing and Business
In this infographic that we elaborated in partnership with Publicidad Pixel you will find a summary about what is the psychology of color and what is the meaning of different colors: